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Thread: My humble review of the Orange TH30

  1. #1
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Here's my take on this amp, if anyone's interested...

    The amp was purchased new in June. Here in Canada, I paid a grand and some change including shipping and taxes. I’ve seen it cheaper in Montreal but they were all back ordered until September so I bought it from a shop in Ontario for a little more in order to get it quicker.

    I’ve retubed it with Tung-Sol 12ax7s in the pre-amp and TAD EL84s in the power section.

    Guitars: I play Les Pauls through it (a Custom with a Custom in the bridge and Pearly Gates in the neck; a Classic with Custom in the bridge and Seth Love in the neck and a DC Junior with the stock pick-up).

    Cab: It’s plugged through a beefy home-made 1x12 cab loaded with an Eminence Wizard.

    Construction:
    I have nothing to say about it really, other than the fact that it looks and feels solid, the tolex is cleanly applied and everything looks top-notch. Getting the chassis out to retube took some time but that’s not really a problem. The amp isn’t particularly heavy for it’s size, I’m assuming the transformers aren’t super-beefy, the amp being only 30 watts. I don’t have any frame of reference for 30 watts heads though. It’s actually my first head…

    Clean channel:
    This channel has: volume, low and high knobs.
    The clean channel is quite loud. It gets louder than the dirty channel when knobs are set at the same position. This isn’t a bad thing per se, unless one wants some break-up at lower volume. Otherwise, it’s positive since the clean tone gets hairy quite rapidly (around 12 o’clock) and turns into a very usable crunch past 2-3 o’clock. When used at volumes that allow the clean to remain “clean”, the tone was quite surprising. I wasn’t expecting such a nice clean tone from this amp. It’s lively and deep. Played through the aforementioned set-up with the stated guitars, the tone can be a little dark (of course, the p90 in the junior helped with this compared with the other two LPs). I keep the treble knob almost all the way up and the bass quite low. Set like this the clean tone is very pleasant and doesn’t sound dark at all; it is to be noted that this knobs placement can seem quite extreme to some, considering that there isn’t much more increase of the treble that can be done. I assume that players looking for a Fender-type shimmery clean tone may need single coils, a treble booster or, well, just buy a Fender or fender-clone. I never perceived the Wizard as a dark speaker (although there are much brighter ones out there for sure) so I don’t believe the problem lies there.

  2. #2
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    [continued]

    Dirty channel:
    This channel has three knobs: volume, gain and shape (EQ knob increasing of decreasing the mids while doing the opposite to treble and bass). This Shape knob is either liked or disliked on the web (although I suspect that many naysayers haven’t played through this amp and are stating things more generally). I can see how having more control over the EQ curve could be beneficial but I don’t feel there’s anything missing from the control you have with just this knob. Turning the knob counter-clockwise increases the mids while decreasing the treble and lows. Setting it the opposite way increases the lows and highs while scooping the mids. There’s actually something very cool about having so much tone-shaping capacities over your dirty tone from tuning just 2 knobs. Whether you’re a “set and forget” type of guy or an incessant tweaker, there’s something for you, although there isn’t much to tweak. I’m assuming the incessant tweakers will run out of experiments in a short period but both gain and shape knobs interact nicely with each other. It was really easy to find very satisfactory tones on the amp. The beauty of its simplicity lies in how easy it is to “come back” to tones you’ve found before. I don’t find myself taking notes on knobs placement anymore (which would actually make me sound quite dumb seeing how it’s only 2 knobs right?).

    The dirty tone of this amp is full with the low-mids that make the sound of Orange amps so unique. It does, however, have a bit less of the crunchy mids at lower gain settings, which in turn yields a tone that may be a bit less organic than some might desire. I’m assuming that folks solely in search of a retro crunchy tone will be better off looking at other Orange amps geared towards lower gain.

    The reason I was drawn to this amp (or any Orange amps lately for that matter) is that the lower-mids tend to make the amp sound crunchy and heavy without having to go for full-blown scooped distortion, which I never found in my former JCM 800 or Genz Benz El Diablo (even though both were amazing amps…yes, even the GB). That not only ensures a tone that cuts through the mix with ease but also enables one to retain the playing dynamics without sacrificing said heavy-tone... heaven for riffing on the lower strings. The sweet-spot for the tone I was looking for with the dirt-channel was between 10 and 2 o’clock for gain and between 9 and 1 for the EQ. This may seem quite constrained but just by tweaking between these points for both knobs the tone can be quite drastically changed. Almost any settings could be useful, the only moments where the tone was unusable for me were on the extremes: EQ completely counter-clockwise or completely set clockwise. Pretty much the same can be said for the gain. However, it didn’t sound bad for certain types of music with the gain maxed-out (it was tight and brutal with a lot of the fizz EL 84s are known for) but it certainly wasn’t something I can hear myself using.

  3. #3
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Pedals:
    I don’t own many pedals but I tested 4 ODs in front of it. It took them all quite well but the clear winner was the Danelectro Transparent OD. The Boss SD-1 modded by John Spina was on its heels. They worked wonders to push the amp a little harder but keeping the amps character shining through. They both would be great for pushing the amp for solos.
    It is to be noted that the CoolCat OD (OCD clone or close to it supposedly) didn't work well at all with it. Something strange was happening in the lower-register...

    Effects loop:
    The loop is powered by a 12at7. I’m not big on pedals of any kind, so I’m probably not going to be using the loop. I therefore didn’t bother replacing the original tube powering it. Using a Danelectro Spring King (Real spring reverb tank pedal) through it yields no noise and sounds great. Same goes with my Boss CE-2, no additional noise.

    Wattage:
    One of the very practical characteristics of the amp is that it can be switched between 7, 15 or 30 watts. Being such a loud amp (30 watts in Class A), this is a home-player salvation if you play both home and with a band, allowing you to keep playing the same amp in both situations. A switch on the back allows you to use only 2 of the 4 EL84 output tubes while another on the front panel allows you to switch the amp to half of its capacity (I’m assuming switching between pentode or triode mode). This also allows two different 15 watts modes: 4 tubes in triode or 2 tubes in pentode.
    I found that switching between the different modes didn’t alter the tone that much. My former Genz Benz turned into a quite different beast when switched to triode at 30 watts (quite darker with less gain). It isn’t the case that much with this amp. What I did observe is that, as expected, when used with the switch at half capacity (triode mode) the tone did get a bit “looser”, not as tight compared to the full mode and “maybe” a slightly bit darker. Depending on your tastes and type of music you can tailor your tone a bit more with this knowledge, especially if you can deal with only 15 watts (where both modes are available as described above). My preference goes to the tighter gain character for most of my electric guitar work but it’s nice to have the option. Since using tubes to their full capacity yields a bit of a brighter tone, this could also helped the clean channel (read the description above).

    All in all, it’s a great amp. Very versatile and can get quite loud. Being made in China, the price it commends when new IMHO makes it a tremendous value. I haven’t seen any on the used market yet but I can only imagine they’ll be an amazing deal considering what this amp is.

    Is it perfect? Of course not... I wish I could get a little more low-end crunch from it but hey, it's a 30 watt head, not a cranked 100W on top of a 4x12... it's called compromising.

    I don’t see myself changing this beast anytime soon as it pretty much nailed where I am (at the moment at least) in my tone-quest.
    Last edited by Surgeon; 09-13-2011 at 05:58 PM.

  4. #4
    Li'l Junior Member MetalManiac's Avatar
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    "Anyone who understands Jazz knows that you can't understand it. It's too complicated. That's what's so simple about it." - Yogi Berra

  5. #5
    Jay 77
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Spot on. No need to write a review of mine, since you nailed it! Your take on it is exactly how I feel. Well done!

  6. #6
    Mojo's Minions crguti's Avatar
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    great review.

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    Our Neighbor Totoro FuseG4's Avatar
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    It would be great if you would post a link to this thread in the "amp review" sticky so that people will always be able to find this.
    Sounds like an awesome amp.

  8. #8
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    I'm happy some of you find it good 'nuff.

    Fuse: I'll go and try to do that...

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    Professional Scapegoat BloodRose's Avatar
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Surg,
    Great review! Ive wondered about these. Keep seeing oranges popping up on stages. And GW raved about this model. (always skeptical) But turns out they mirrored your review. Fairly lush cleans and loads of gain.
    Believe me when I say that some of the most amazing music in history was made on equipment that's not as good as what you own right now.

    Jol Dantzig

  10. #10
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Quote Originally Posted by BloodRose View Post
    Surg,
    Great review! Ive wondered about these. Keep seeing oranges popping up on stages. And GW raved about this model. (always skeptical) But turns out they mirrored your review. Fairly lush cleans and loads of gain.
    Always nice to know I'm not the only one who thinks this is a great amp...
    It's quite a bargain from my point of view and worth everything I paid for it.

  11. #11
    firstlessonologist guitfiddle's Avatar
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Quote Originally Posted by Surgeon View Post
    I'm happy some of you find it good 'nuff.

    Fuse: I'll go and try to do that...
    Better yet...copy and paste this into the amp review thread, and nuke this one
    - Tom

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankly
    Some people make the wine. Some people drink the wine. And some people sniff the cork and wonder what might have been.
    The Eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn of the Crow.

  12. #12
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Quote Originally Posted by guitfiddle View Post
    Better yet...copy and paste this into the amp review thread, and nuke this one
    No WAY! It's my first thread ever to reach more than 5 replies (I'm a quite popular fellow you know )... I want it kept as proof to myself that I'm not a ghost around here!

    Also: the amp review thread is usually 1 page long per amp while this one is quite longer... I think a link isn't a bad idea for simplicity purposes.

  13. #13
    firstlessonologist guitfiddle's Avatar
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Quote Originally Posted by Surgeon View Post
    No WAY! It's my first thread ever to reach more than 5 replies (I'm a quite popular fellow you know )... I want it kept as proof to myself that I'm not a ghost around here!

    Also: the amp review thread is usually 1 page long per amp while this one is quite longer... I think a link isn't a bad idea for simplicity purposes.
    In that case, you could paste it in the review thread, and leave this one open, too. Anyone searching for Orange TH30 will find and contribute to it, and the review thread will benefit from yer review as well.
    - Tom

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankly
    Some people make the wine. Some people drink the wine. And some people sniff the cork and wonder what might have been.
    The Eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn of the Crow.

  14. #14
    Mojo's Minions everdrone's Avatar
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Quote Originally Posted by guitfiddle View Post
    In that case, you could paste it in the review thread, and leave this one open, too. Anyone searching for Orange TH30 will find and contribute to it, and the review thread will benefit from yer review as well.
    yay!

    more orange threads are better

    this TH30 def sounds like a worthy amp, congrats, I love how orange sits in the mix for the type of music I play

  15. #15
    Stratoblaster Tone Meister STRATDELUXER97's Avatar
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Very good review of your amp pal.
    Amps: 66 Fender BF Pro Reverb Combo,1973 50 Watt Marshall Head,Marshall 4x12 A/V Cab,Vox ToneLab LE,Vox VTH Valvetronix 120 Head,Vox AD 2x12 Cab,Roland Cube 20X

    Guitars: Several Stratocasters,2 Fender Telecasters,Gibson SG Standard,Tokai Love Rock Les Paul,Dean Acoustic.

    Pickups: SD SSL2,SSL5,Twangbanger,Antiquity Surfers,59N,Seth Lover N/B,Dimarzio Fred,Dimarzio VPAF N,Fender Fat 50s,Fralin SP43 Bridge,Brobucker,Antiquity Texas Hot.

  16. #16
    Mojo's Minions crguti's Avatar
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Quote Originally Posted by Surgeon View Post
    It's my first thread ever to reach more than 5 replies

  17. #17
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Quote Originally Posted by STRATDELUXER97 View Post
    Very good review of your amp pal.
    Thanks John, your modded SD-1 works (as expected) wonderfully with it!

  18. #18
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Quote Originally Posted by guitfiddle View Post
    In that case, you could paste it in the review thread, and leave this one open, too. Anyone searching for Orange TH30 will find and contribute to it, and the review thread will benefit from yer review as well.
    Sure thing... I wouldn't close this one anyways...

  19. #19
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Quote Originally Posted by everdrone View Post
    yay!

    more orange threads are better

    this TH30 def sounds like a worthy amp, congrats, I love how orange sits in the mix for the type of music I play
    I like it a lot indeed... if I were in a situation worthy of more wattage I'd love a TV50 but so far this TH makes way more sense to me.

    BTW: I really like your music...

  20. #20
    John Mayer's Mankini ImmortalSix's Avatar
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    Default Re: My humble review of the Orange TH30

    Quote Originally Posted by Surgeon View Post
    Pedals:
    I don’t own many pedals but I tested 4 ODs in front of it.
    LOL, classic SDUGF thing to say!


    AWESOME review, thanks for all that detail, especially the "why I went for this amp as opposed to the 10,000 other amps out there" --- that should be a part of every amp review!

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